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Now hear this: Sphere exosphere audio is coming

By summer, people looking at the Sphere will be able to hear it as well as see it.

Sphere Executive Chairman and CEO James Dolan on Friday told investors on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that an audio component is coming to the Las Vegas venue’s exosphere.

In response to an investor’s question about how the company could further monetize the exosphere beyond advertising, Dolan said sound is coming.

“We think that there’s more to do with the exosphere,” he said. “We think that we’ll be able this year, probably this summer, to be able to add an audio component that goes along with the exosphere, which will make, of course, make the medium even more attractive. So we’re still pretty bullish on the exosphere.”

Sphere officials declined comment on detailed questions about how loud the audio would be and how it plays into Clark County noise ordinances, nor on how the technology would work.

Later in the call, Dolan noted Sphere had acquired Holoplot, the Berlin-based sound company that has patented Sphere’s beamforming sound technology, but Sphere officials declined comment on whether the transaction and the addition of the audio component are related.

Lots of tech

Dolan also said the company is working on the next film project that would join Daron Aronofsky’s “Postcard from Earth” movie shown as part of the Sphere Experience.

Dolan was light on details.

“But I can tell you that we’re employing a great deal of tech, including a significant component of AI in this,” he said. “And we’re following along the same themes that we followed before, which is basically experience and immersion, but with an additional technology component in there that should blow your socks off.”

The Sphere continues to lose money, according to the company’s financial reports, but Dolan said it is continuing to learn the nuances of the Las Vegas market and how to best profit from the new medium.

For the fiscal 2024 third quarter, the company reported revenue of $321.3 million, an increase of $159.3 million from a year earlier. In addition, the company reported an operating loss of $40.4 million, an improvement of $61.5 million compared with the prior-year quarter, and adjusted operating income of $61.5 million, compared with an adjusted operating loss of $18.7 million in the prior-year quarter.

The Sphere Experience featuring “Postcard from Earth” generated more than $1 million in average daily ticket sales on the days it ran during the quarter.

U2 concluded its sold-out 40-show run in March, and Phish sold out four nights. Upcoming residency group Dead and Company extended its stay from 18 to 24 shows due to strong ticket demand.

Record-setting ad revenue

The exosphere featured advertising campaigns from several global brands during the quarter, and it generated a record-setting week of advertising revenue around the Super Bowl in February with another strong week during CES in January.

Sphere announced that in June it would host both its first corporate keynote event with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as well as this year’s NHL Draft.

Dolan said he expects the Hewlett Packard business presentation to generate new interest in conducting corporate events there.

Investors asked for updates on the possible development of more Sphere venues worldwide, but Dolan gave no specifics, meaning the Las Vegas venue will be unique in the world for at least a few more years.

There has been speculation of new Sphere venues of varying sizes using the same technology as the one here in Dubai and South Korea. A project planned in London was canceled in January over concerns it was to be located near residential areas and too bright and distracting for the area.

Still, Dolan is confident additional Spheres are coming, there’s no delay in the development pipeline and that his company will be able to build them less expensively after building the one in Las Vegas.

“I just think that building a Sphere is not like building a McDonald’s,” Dolan said. “It’s complicated, it’s a very expensive project. This will only be the second one in the world that has been built. So working out all the details and the construction costs and the relationships that are in there does take time.

“And remember, there has been plenty of interest over the year, but not until we launched the product in late September did people really get to see what it was and begin to see how it can perform,” he said. “So with all that, we are in discussions with several markets. We think we’re going to conclude at least one of those markets soon.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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